NATION : Aide’s Refusal to Testify Fuels Race-Scholarship Controversy

From Times Wire Services

Efforts by a congressional committee to clear up the Bush Administration’s new policy on race-exclusive scholarships were thwarted today when the Education Department’s civil rights enforcer declined to testify.

Assistant Education Secretary Michael J. Williams gave no explanation for declining to testify before the House Education and Labor Committee, headed by Rep. Augustus F. Hawkins (D-Los Angeles).

Educators and committee members speculated the White House directed him not to appear.

Under the revised policy unveiled by Williams on Tuesday, public universities and private schools that receive federal funding may award scholarships based solely on race if they use only private money earmarked for that purpose. President Bush denied at a news conference Tuesday there was any Administration “flip-flop.” He insisted the new policy would “continue these minority scholarships as best we can.”